"I have really good aim, so I purposely didn't hit anything vital. You can disappear or I can make you disappear." She was even using the threats and promises that I laid down with my prey. It was ridiculously sexy and arousing. "That deck off the back of the house drops into a gorge that seems endless. I can toss you over the railing and no one will ever find your body. Do we have to have this conversation again? Because frankly I'm sick of trying to explain to you that he loves me, has always loved me, and you never stood a chance." Holy shit, was she ever my girl. Who knew that watching her toss threats and promising mayhem would be such a turn-on even if it wasn't the time or the place?
Bayla was sniffling and, unbelievably, looked at me for help. I snorted, mostly because Key had just delivered the exact same ultimatum I had used against the last woman that had been causing a headache in my life. Key had more than a little devil inside of her. "I'll help her toss you into the canyon," I put in. All I wanted to do was lie back down and hold on to my badass girl. Who needed Chuck to watch my back when I had her?
"I love you." She whispered the words and I thought Key was going to shoot her again.
"Maybe you do, but that's your mistake."
Hearing me tell her that her feelings were a mistake must have finally broken through to her. She levered herself to her feet, cast a longing look at me, and then rushed past me and out the door. I didn't know what kind of offer Key had made the woman before tonight, and when I stopped feeling like my entire body was turned inside out, I was going to make her tell me all about it. I wasn't surprised that Key had plans of her own for our city.
Once Bayla was gone, I collapsed onto the floor. Pain radiated along every nerve in my body and I couldn't stop the ceiling from dipping in and out of focus. I heard Key make her way over to me. She sat down by my hip and reached out to trace her fingers over my eyebrows.
"What else did Race teach you while I was in the hospital?"
She laughed softly. "It was actually Booker. Race said he didn't want any part of putting a weapon in my hands. He said I was dangerous enough as it was. I asked Chuck and he said it was something you would want to show me how to do-handle a weapon and protect myself. I figured I better be prepared since someone is always trying to knock my devil off his throne, so Reeve suggested Booker and he hooked me up. Apparently I'm a natural, which is a good thing when all of heaven and earth is trying to take the man I love from me. I'm not ever going to watch someone hold a weapon on you or on me and not be able to do something about it again."
I should be annoyed but I wasn't. I was proud of her. She knew what it was going to take to stand by my side and protect what was ours.
"So, that talk you wanted to have about Bayla before all hell broke loose . . . maybe you want to fill me in on that now."
She breathed out a little laugh and shifted around so she was lying on her back in the middle of the living room next to me. "Later. We have time."
Yes, we did. Time we had fought for, died for, bargained for, and ultimately earned in order to be together. Even spending time with this woman couldn't come easy and that made me appreciate every second of it . . . and of her, more
"You think that's the last of the people trying to kill you we'll see for a while?" She sounded like she was kidding.
"Not even close."
That was what it was like to be a dishonorable man with a horrific past in a wrecked city. The consequences never seemed to end and I had a lifetime of them gunning for me.
Four months later . . .
The two men across from me in the elevator were talking in a language I didn't understand. That happened a lot with the kinds of people Nassir did business with. These particular men were Eastern European, and I knew enough and could tell by the way they were looking at me that they weren't talking about the fabulous, purple Michael Kors heels decorating my feet.
One of the guys kept looking at the substantial rock that was sitting on my left hand and nudging his buddy. I think the gist of their conversation was that Nassir obviously had a weakness if he was going to put that kind of jewel on my hand and let me be involved in their business, but since I didn't speak what I assumed was Albanian, I couldn't be sure. I just kept my eyes on them as the elevator rose up to Nassir's office, and refused to show any emotion as they continued to chatter away. One of the guys leered at me and licked his lips in a really graphic way and I considered telling him the elevator was wired for both video and sound but figured he would find that out the hard way soon enough. I smirked back at him as the doors whooshed open and revealed the plush office, Nassir on his proverbial throne, and Chuck and several of his men flanking his sides.
Everyone in the room was glaring at the two guests and I felt the level of their confidence and bluster plummet as they walked ahead of me into the office. They were immediately surrounded and checked for weapons. Of course they were armed. It didn't seem to matter if it was the good guys or the bad guys coming to see Nassir, whoever was knocking on his door came equipped with guns and an agenda. The two guests shot nervous glances at each other as they were disarmed and shoved into the chairs on the opposite side of that massive desk. I maneuvered my way around them and went to lean against the side of Nassir's leather chair. I put my arm across the top of it and he reached out a hand and placed it on my knee. Together we stared at the men, who were both now sweating profusely and nervously shifting their weight from side to side.
Nassir's thumb moved in a lazy circle on the inside of my knee and I saw one of the men gulp as he realized maybe I was more than just the hostess showing them to their meeting or a trophy that sat prettily on Nassir's shelf. That had been my biggest fear, but every single day he put something else in my hands, some part of the business, some part of his life to make sure I knew how equally invested he was in our future. We weren't simply partners; we were a team, and sometimes that made me feel like we were unstoppable.
"You come into my town without asking. You bring girls that are too young and have no say in whether or not they want to work for you. You make money off of them and then don't pay them a dime. You even had the nerve to try to recruit Point girls to work in your flophouses, and you think I'm going to let any of that slide?"